The Netherlands is often called a ‘bike paradise’. Despite this, there are 53 (!!) different ways you can get fined while biking in the Netherlands.
Last week I was cycling through the streets of Utrecht in the evening when suddenly I was flagged down by the police. Before I knew what was happening, BAM, fine of €55 for not having bike lights. I also got a €90 fine for not carrying ID (I left my wallet at home), bringing me to a nice lump sum of €145. Rough.
To ensure that your biking trip doesn’t become as unnecessarily expensive as mine, here’s a basic guide to Dutch fines while cycling.
1. Cycling without lights or reflectors
Cycling in the dark without bike lights is probably the most common reason for getting a fine. Like me, many people forget to buy new bike lights. 😅 You need to have both front and back lights for it to count, otherwise, you will still get a €55 fine. On top of all this, you can get a €35 fine for not having reflectors on your bike!
On the bright side (as the officer who fined me also said), bike lights are only like €3 or €4 in Jumbo or HEMA. A pretty small price to pay for safety, right?
Pro tip: Don’t put the little lights you buy in the flickering light function! This nifty little trick can also result in a fine of €55.
2. Cycling under influence
This one is a little more self-evident. Clearly you shouldn’t step into any kind of vehicle drunk — and in the Netherlands this includes cycling. According to the police, you can be fined €100 for having anything over 235 ugl (0.54 profile) of alcohol. This translates to roughly two and a half beers, so watch out! In addition to this, you can get a €85 fine for not cooperating with the alcohol test.
Next time you’re coming home after drinking, consider walking your bike instead.
3. Not indicating the direction
If you’ve ever cycled in the Netherlands you’ve seen people sticking their arms out when changing direction on a bike. While it may sometimes seem extravagant, it is actually very handy to avoid accidents.
Beyond this, not indicating direction can land you a €35 fine. So stick those arms out people!
4. Not having a bell (and other stuff)
There’s a scarily long list of fines that you can get for a badly maintained bike. If you take one look at bikes in Utrecht or Amsterdam, you can conclude that the police doesn’t check most of these. In principle though, you could be fined for the following:
- Brakes that don’t work: €55
- Broken pedals: €55
- Not having a bell: €35
- Broken bike frame: €55
5. Texting while cycling
Texting while cycling is the newest infraction you can commit while cycling in the Netherlands. Since July 1, 2019 you can get a €95 fine for this. Luckily Google Maps has a speaker function — so plug in those earphones and let maps guide you verbally!
6. Not following traffic rules
While it may seem like cyclists in the Netherlands think they’re above traffic rules, (on paper at least), they’re not. You can get a €85 fine for running a red light, a €45 fine for driving on the bus lane, and a €30 fine for driving on a road where bikes aren’t allowed.
The baseline is, follow the traffic signs and you should be fine.
7. Parking in the wrong place
If you don’t want your bike to be removed, you may want to follow this one.
You can get a €30 fine for parking your bike in the wrong place. While it may seem tempting, there’s usually a bike stall someplace nearby to park instead.
Most incredibly, in some places in the Netherlands you can also get fined €40 for not locking your bike (check your municipality rules)! Usually, the risk of getting your bike stolen is incentive enough to lock your bike, but the fine gives even more reason.
In a country with so many cyclists, it makes sense that there’s a lot of laws for them too. While overwhelming, most of these rules aren’t usually policed. Mostly, if you ensure you have good lights, and follow the (general) traffic rules, you should be fine. So, try to avoid fines, keep safe and happy cycling!
Have you ever been fined while cycling in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Pexels/Pixabay
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in June 2020, and was fully updated in June 2021 for your reading pleasure.